Idiot’s Guide to Surviving Brazil’s Public Transportation System

So you’re coming to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup?

And you’ve heard all the worries that the stadiums won’t be built in time, and that Sao Paulo won’t be ready for the World Cup?

Nonsense. This is Brazil – everything that has to happen will happen in due course.

 

One important question is: are you ready for Brazil’s public transportation network?

For instance, in Sao Paulo, how will you get around? The buses, metro and trains are cheap: ranging from ~R$3.00 to ~R$10.00 if you have several transfers to make. I live half an hour from Paulista. So i take a bus and the metro every morning, and it costs me R$5.00 each way. Buses pretty much cost the same around the country: Rio, Manaus, Belo Horizonte etc

If you’re like me, and you’re paranoid about being an idiot on the bus, here’s what you do:

1. Google map exactly where you board and where you get off, memorize the building #, street name, and streets you will pass just prior to your stop.

2. All the same, when you get to the bus stop, ask locals if your bus passes here: “Licença – você sabe se este ônibus [insert bus #] vem aqui?”

For instance, my Sao Paulo bus only stops at every 3 physical stops on Paulista.

3. Pay up when you get to the turnstiles. Preferably give him a note no bigger than R$10.00. Chances are, she won’t have change for you if you give more anyway.

4. Wait for him to tap his card, then pass through the turnstiles.

5. Grab the first available seat you see, because Brazilian drivers like to think they are race car drivers (understandable impulse, of course, but also kind of life-threatening).

6. Make sure you’re not sitting on a yellow seat – they’re ‘preferential seats’ for the elderly, disabled, pregnant etc.

 

When nearing your stop, stand up early and go to the door. This is hard for me, cause i usually sit right till the last second and only stand when the bus has stopped on my street (i try to avoid swaying like a stalk of grain on buses because my annoying ponytail slaps people in the face). But seriously, for some reason, Brazilians go to the door at least 2 stops before they actually get off.

Trust me, i have spent weeks mulling this over and have yet to understand why.

Until I get it, I’ll just do as the locals do.

 

Lastly: MAYBE THERE WILL BE PROTESTS. THEN YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF ON A BUS THAT DOES NOT MOVE. ACCEPT IT AND MOVE ON. THERE ARE MANY WONDERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL THINGS ABOUT BRAZIL, BUT TRAFFIC IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

 

 

 

 

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